St. Louis City Circuit Court judge refused to grant Johnson & Johnson’s motions following the July 13, 2018 jury verdict of $4.7 billion against Johnson & Johnson for injuries suffered by 22 women. This verdict was the largest by far against Johnson & Johnson in cases against it brought by women who have claimed that ovarian cancer was caused by use of the baby powder. The St. Louis City Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison concluded in his opinion that there was “substantial evidence” to support the $550 million in compensatory damages and that punitive damages that totaled more than $4 billion were constitutional.
Judge Burlison added: “First, substantial evidence was adduced at trial of particularly reprehensible conduct on the part of defendants (Johnson & Johnson and others), including that defendants knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.” The judge also said, “Second, defendants’ actions caused significant physical harm and potential physical harm, including causing ovarian cancer in plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ decedents.”
Judge Burlison also noted that the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act was a law that also provided for potential penalties against Johnson & Johnson.